The Cask of Amontillado Literary Analysis
Edgar Allan Poe was born January 19, 1809, in Boston Massachusetts. Before the age of three both of his parents died, and when he turned eighteen, he joined the army. Poe married in 1836, and suffered his wife’s death, causing his lifelong struggle of alcoholism and depression to worsen. His gothic style of writing portrayed all the hurt that he endured in his time. You can see this because of how well he can use a human’s most raw and powerful emotions in his work. For example, in his short stories, Annabel Lee and The Raven Poe gives us a taste of his deep knowledge of love and loss. But that is not all, in the Cask of Amontillado Poe goes a completely different route and shows us another side of human emotion, describing true hatred, pride, revenge, and hurt in plain brutality. In this short story, we experience the mind of a madman driven to do something horrific because of an unknown insult from someone he calls a friend. Montresor’s demand for revenge and will to go to any lengths to get his vengeance is caused by his overwhelming sense of pride and need to win.
At the beginning of this short story Montresor gives us vague information on Fortunado’s fault by solely stating that “The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as I best could; but when he ventured upon insult, I vowed revenge.” (Arntzen 907). He gives us no detail as to what the insult is and suggests they are friends, yet he is planning terrible revenge. Montresor’s pride can no longer stand Fortunado, and his mad mind has now resorted to planning his death. From his first quote, he depicts too much pride, which cannot allow him to let Fortunado get away with the insults. Although Montresor from the opening line expresses the urge for revenge, the event that led to the abuses is not mentioned, and this does not prove the liability of Fortunado to this revenge. Also, the fact that He does not resort to involving the law, but takes matters in his hand to conduct the revenge leaves the readers’ minds with questions, whether the revenge was worth it, or if Montresor was not right for acting on his own.
Although he wants Fortunado dead, he needs to make sure he can get away with what he plans. By Montresor making a full proof plan to end Fortunado we see that he ultimately wants to win. He is convinced that by silencing Fortunado totally would give him a chance to remain on the win, and of course, have his pride back. He needs to demonstrate his dominance in a way that ensures Fortunado will forever know he is the lesser man. Montresor refuses to go down in his act of revenge and needs to feel on top. That is why, he thinks with precision and decides to wait until the carnival season so that he can get Fortunado alone and be able to send his servants away at the same time. Sending his servants away was to ensure no one was around to see what happened. That shows how determined he was to have this revenge, and silence Fortunado for good. This was perfect timing for him as he had planned everything to fall into place. And indeed, as it progresses, things were falling into place.
Because Montresor knows how fond Fortunado is of wine he decides to use that to his advantage and plans to make it a reason to get Fortunado away from the carnival. Although Fortunado was already drunk by the time he reached him, he knew perfectly well that the presence of wine would get Fortunado to go with him. Therefore, he would be able to carry out his revenge. He then claims to Fortunado that he has acquired something that could be Amontillado, but threatens to take another man named Luchesi with him instead. Gaining the exact reaction he intended to receive Fortunado insists he go claiming that “Luchesi could not tell Amontillado from the other types of sherry.” This shows Fortunado thinks he is better than everyone, which only pushes Montresor’s desire to kill him. Montresor had so much pride, and the desire to always be on the win. Therefore, the fact that Fortunado thought he was still better than everyone is something that pushed him harder for revenge. Montresor was smart enough that Fortunado was unable to suspect anything, but agreed to taste the wine for him.
Montresor leaves the carnival and starts to descend to the vaults. The carnival was a social place unlike the vaults where they were headed, which was a lonely place where only the skeleton of Montresor’s family were found. The vaults were the best place for Montresor to conduct his revenge. That is because nobody was around to see or hear the murder and also would make it easier for him to get rid of the dead body since his family members were buried there. He was determined for this revenge, which Fortunado, however, failed to notice. To show his fake concerns, Montresor even offered Fortunado to go back to the carnival when he started coughing. Montresor here used irony as a weapon to make his revenge a success. Although Montresor continually offered to bring back Fortunado, deep inside, he wanted the exact opposite. He as well knew Fortunado would not accept to go back, and just as he was expecting, Fortunado thought the antidote to his cough was the wine.
The reader continues to see the passion Montresor has for revenge when Fortunado claims not to remember Montresor’s family motto. Although Montresor seems to remind him gladly, he is quick to state the motto to mean “No one attacks me with impunity.” (Arntzen 1667). As simple as it may sound to Fortunado, Montresor was actually passing his message of revenge to him. At the beginning of the book, Montresor states that Fortunado injured him, and as well insulted him. Thence the motto could speak about the revenge he was just about to perform, letting Fortunado know that he was to pay the price for attacking him. Fortunado, however, was unable to realize anything, as Montresor continued to act friendly as they were getting further into the vaults. Montresor was determined and moved in a way that would not hint Fortunado about his plans. Which so far he seemed to be succeeded since Fortunado did not suspect any planned attack on him.
Montresor was so determined in his plans that he eventually managed to make them come true as he was able to chain Fortunado on a stone. While Montresor was building the layers of the wall and getting ready to leave him inside the crypt, Fortunado was helplessly crying for help. Montresor had a mission to revenge;to have his pride back and to be the winner. He had been waiting for this moment and he was not going to show any mercy to the weak crying Fortunado. His mission was to silence Fortunado for good, and by raising the walls of the crypt, he was not going to let him out. He did not relent on his revenge but instead made sure that Fortunado would never escape. He new after he would place the last brick poor Fortunado was dead. Montresor says, “I replied to the yells of him who clamored. I re-echoed, I aided, and I surpassed them in volume and strength”. (Gale 220). This shows how much he had no regrets for his actions and how he finally overpowered him and took control. Despite the yells and the sound of begging to be let go, Montresor states how that did not make him change his mind. Instead, it gave him more strength to continue with his mission. He finally manages exact his long awaited revenge on Fortunado.
In conclusion, in Cask of Amontillado Poe portray’s the darkest of human emotions. In the story, Montresor claims Fortunado did hurt him and is determined to have his revenge. Montresor, manages to get away with killing Fortunado to satisfy his pride as well as show that he is the on on top.